tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 20, 2013 8:59am-9:30am EST
captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2008 >> and we should have anticipated that that would create a rockier rollout than if democrats and republicans were both invested in success. one of the problems we had is one side of capitol hill is invest ed in failure and that makes the process of fixing glitches as they come up and fine tuning the law more challenging. i'm optimistic we can get it fixed. >> is it possible that you have lost enough potential customers in exchanges that you won't reach the critical mass of signups that you need to make the marketplace work. is that a danger you have to worry about right now? >> it's something that we have
to pay attention to. keep in mind that this model of marketplaces was based on what was done in massachusetts. and the experience of massachusetts was that in the first month 153 or 63 people signed up out of ultimate 36,000. it was less than 1% signed up in that first month. partly because buying insurance is a complicated process for a lot of people. when they have more choices, it means they're going to take more time. there's no doubt that we've lost some time but the website is getting better each week. by the end of this month it will be functioning for the majority of people who are using it. they will be able to shop, see what their choices are. the prices are good. the prices are not changing during the open enrollment period that goes until march. so i think that we'll have time to catch up.
what's also been expressed as a concern is the mix of people that sign up. we might end up having millions of people sign up. they're happy with their new coverage, but we've got more people who are older, more likely to get sick than younger and healthier. we've got to monitor that carefully. we always anticipated though that younger folks would be the last folks in just because it's been a while since you and i were young but as i recall you don't think that you're going to get sick at that time. look, i am confident that the model that we have built which works off of the existing private spurns system is one that will succeed. we are going to have to, a, fix the website everybody feels
confident about that. we'll have to remarket and rebrand and that will be challenging in this political environment. but keep in mind in the first month we also had 12 million people visit the site. the demand is there. there are 41 million people who don't have health insurance. the folks in the individual market many of them are going to get a much better deal in the marketplaces and so we just got to keep on improving the customer experience and make sure that we're fending off efforts not to fix the problem because if somebody wants to help fix it, i'm all game but fending off efforts to completely undermine it. >> let me turn to the economy, the broader economy, probably the predominant concern of people in this room. we're stuck in an economic pattern of okay but not great growth. your friend, larry summers, was here earlier this morning and said one of the problems is the system can't do two things at once.
it can't cut deficits and spur growth. it needs to do one or the other. right now it should spur growth and not worry about deficits. do you agree and if you do agree, how do you make that happen? >> actually, larry and i and most of my economic team -- in fact all of my economic team -- have consistently maintained that there is a way to reconcile the concerns about debt and deficits with the concerns about growth. what we know is that our fiscal problems are not short-term deficits. our discretionary budget, that portion of the federal budget that isn't defense or social security or medicare or medicaid, the entitlement programs, at the smallest level in my lifetime. probably since dwight eisenhower. we're not lavishly spending on a
bunch of social programs out there and in many ways a lot of these programs have become more efficient and pretty effective. defense we spent a lot from 2001 to 2011 but generally we are stabilizing and the pentagon working with me have come up with plans that allow us to meet our security needs while still bringing down some of the costs of defense particularly after having ended the war in iraq and on the brink of ending the war in afghanistan. when we talk about our deficit and debt problems, it is almost entirely health care costs. you eliminate the delta, the difference between what we spend on health care and what every other country advanced industrialized nation spends on health care, and that's our long-term debt. and if we're able to bend the
cost curve, we help solve the problem. now, one way to do that is just to make health care cheaper overall. i think that's the best way to do it. that's what we've been doing through some of the measures in the affordable care act. there are other provisions that we could take that would maintain our commitment to seniors, medicare, social security, the disabled, medicaid, while still reducing very modestly the cost of those programs. if we do those things, that solves our real fiscal problem and we could take some of that money, very modest portion on the front end, and invest in infrastructure that puts people back to work, improve our research and development. so the idea would be do some things in the short-term that focus on growth. do some things in long-term that
deal with long-term debt. that's what my budget reflects. that's what a multiple series of negotiations with john boehner talked about. the so-called grand bargain. we couldn't quite get there in the end mainly because republicans had great deal of difficulty with the idea of putting in more revenue to balance out some of the changes that were made on entitlements. >> i would guess a lot of people in this room would say another way to make those things happen is fix the corporate tax code. everybody agrees it's a mess. some companies pay too much compared to international competitors. some companies don't pay at all. it's not a good system. it's not an efficient system. everyone agrees but it doesn't seem to change. can you make it change and can you do smog about repatriation of u.s. assets overseas? >> here's the good news is that both my administration and republicans have talked about corporate tax reform. paul ryan is going to be coming
after me has said he's interested in corporate tax reform. and we've reached out to them and we've said let's get to work. we put forward a very specific set of proposals that would lower the corporate tax rate, broaden the base, close some loopholes and in terms of international companies and competitiveness what we've said is rather than a whole bunch of tangled laws that incentivize folks to keep money overseas, let's have a modest but clear global minimum tax. get rid of some of the huge fluctuations that people experience. it will save companies money and make them more competitive and in terms of transitioning to that system actually allow people to bring back money in a one-time way help us finance infrastructure and some other projects that need to get done.
i don't expect republicans to adopt exactly the proposal that we've put forward but there's not that much separation between what democrats are talking about and chairman max baucus put out something today, chairman of the finance committee, what dave camp over in the house has talked about, this should be bridgeable. the one thing i would caution is -- i've said this to the business roundtable and other corporate leaders who i have talked to, people like the idea of corporate tax reform in theory. in practice, if you want to make the corporate tax reform deficit neutral, then you actually have to close some loopholes and people like the idea of a simpler tax system until it's their particular loophole that's about to get closed and what we can't afford to do is to keep all of the loopholes that are
currently in place and lower the corporate tax rate. we would then blow another hole in the deficit that would have to be filled and what i'm not willing to do is to have higher rates on the middle class in order to pay for that. >> some of the ceos had a working group. the first priority was immigration reform. the u.s. needs immigration reform to retain talented workers educated in the u.s. and attract talent to the u.s. immigration reform could provide an instant jolt to the u.s. economy which we need. i know you agree with that statement. but it's hard to see that happening right now. you have the senate off on one track. it's passed a comprehensive bill. the house won't even agree to take up. democrats want to do comprehensive reform. republicans want to do stead by step reform. can you make it happen?
>> i am actually optimistic that we're going to get this done. i would have to be an optimist. my name is barack obama and i ran for president. >> and won. >> i won twice. keep in mind, first of all, that what the ceos said is absolutely right. this is a boost to our economy. ever where i go i meet with entrepreneurs and ceos who say i've got these terrific folks. they just graduated from cal tech or m.i.t. or stanford. they're ready to do business here. some of them have these amazing new ideas that we think we can commercialize but they're being dragged back to their home countries not because they want to do but because the immigration system doesn't work. the good news is that the senate
bill was a bipartisan bill and we know what the component parts of this are. we've got to have strong border security. we've got to have better enforcement of existing laws. we've got to make sure that we have a legal immigration system that doesn't cause people to sit in the cue for fiqueue for five, ten years, in some cases 20 years. we should want to immediately say to young people who we helped to educate in this country, you want to stay, we want you here. and we do have to deal with about 11 million folks who are in this country most of them just seeking opportunity. they did break the law by coming here or overstaying their visa and they have to earn their way out of the shadows. pay a fine. learn english. get to the back of the line. pay their back taxes. but giving them a mechanism whereby they can get right by
our society. and that's reflected in the senate bill. now, i actually think that there are a number of house republicans including paul ryan if you ask him about it who agree with that. they're suspicious of comprehensive bills but if they want to chop that thing up into five pieces as long as all five pieces get done, i don't care what it looks like as long as it is actually delivering on those core values that we talk about. >> democrats have been suspicious that all five pieces will be done. >> and that's the problem. the key is what we don't want to do is simply carve out one piece of it. let's say agricultural jobs, which are important, but is easier frankly or the high skilled jobs that many in your audience here would immediately want to do but leave behind some
of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done. we're not going to have a situation in which 11 million people are still living in the shadows and potentially getting deported on an ongoing basis. we're going to have to do it all. in my conversations with republicans, i actually think the divide is not that wide. so what we just have to do is find a pathway where republicans in the house in particular feel comfortable enough about process that they can go ahead and meet us. this, by the way, is a good example of something that's been striking me about our politics for a while. when you go to other countries, the political divisions are so much more stark and wider. here in america, the difference between democrats and republicans, we're fighting inside the 40 yard line.
maybe -- >> you fooled most people on that in the last few months i would say. >> well, no. i would distinguish between the rhetoric and the tactics versus the ideological differences. in most countries, you've got people call me a socialist sometimes but you've got to meet real socialists. you'll have a sense of what a socialist is. you know, i'm talking about lowering the corporate tax rate. my health care reform is based on the private marketplace. stock market is looking pretty good last time i checked. and it is true that i'm concerned about growing inequality in our system but nobody questions the ethicacy of a market economy in terms of producing wealth and innovation
and keeping us competitive. on the flip side, you know, most republicans -- even the tea party -- one of my favorite signs during the campaign was folks hoisting a sign. government, keep your hands off my medicare. think about that. i mean, you know, ideologically they did not like the idea of the federal government and yet they felt very protective about the basic social safety net that had been structured. so my simple point is this. if we can get beyond the tactical advantages that parties perceive in painting folks as extreme and trying to keep an eye always on the next election and for a while at least just focus on governing, then there
is probably 70% overlap on a whole range of issues. a lot of republicans want to get infrastructure done just like i do. a lot of them believe in basic research just like i do. a lot of them want to reform entitlements to make sure they are affordable for the next generation, so do i. a lot want to reform our tax system. so do i. there will be differences on the details and those details matter. i'll fight very hard for them. we shouldn't think somehow the reason we have these problems is because our policy differences are so great. >> details are important enough to shut down the government just a couple weeks ago. and everybody knows we're headed back toward showdowns again, january budget, february, debt ceiling. jack lew was here earlier and said he thought the system crossed a threshold in october and realized it doesn't want to
go back and do that again. are you confident it won't go back and do that again. by the way, oecd, organization of economic cooperation development, suggested that the u.s. get rid of the debt ceiling entirely. would you be in favor of that? >> i think that the way our system is set up is like a loaded gun. once people thought we can get leverage on policy disputes by threatening default, that was an extraordinarily dangerous precedent and that's a principle i had to adhere to but for the next president that you will not be able to threaten the entire u.s. or world economy simply because you disagree with me on a health care bill. i would reich to believe that the republicans recognize that was not a good strategy and we're probably better off with a system in which that threat is
not there on a perpetual basis. i do not foresee what we saw in october being repeated in january but the broader point is one that i think all of us have to take to heart. we have to be able to disagree on policy issues without resorting to the kinds of extreme tactics that end up hurting all of us and that's been my main disagreement with a lot of my republican friends. and frankly, the american people agree with that. they don't expect us to march in lock step. there's a reason why we got two parties in this country. they do expect that we're constantly thinking about how are we making sure they can find a job that pays well and that their kids can go to college and afford it, that we are growing and competitive, that we are dealing with our fiscal position
in a sensible way and if we keep them in mind consistently, then i think we're going to be successful. one thing that you have some international ceos here and i think they'll confirm this, when i travel, what's striking to me is people around the world think we got a really good hand. you just take the example of energy. they say america is poised to change our geopolitics entirely because of the advances we've made in oil production, natural gas production, it means manufacturing here is much more attractive than it used to be. that's a huge competitive advantage. we have got the most productive workers just about in the world. our workers have become more and more productive and a lot of companies look at that and say we wish we had workers who were able to operate the way these
folks do. our university systems, our research infrastructure. all of those things are the envy of the world and one of the great things about america is sometimes we get worried that we're losing traction and the sky is falling and back in the '80s japan was about to take over and then china and obviously before that the soviet union and we usually come out okay because we change and we adapt. i just want everybody to remember that we're in a very strong position to compete as long as our political system functions. it doesn't have to be outstanding. this is sort of like winston churchill. two cheers for democracy. it's always going to be messy. it has to function better than it has. >> i'm in the red zone on the clock here. i want to ask a question about international affairs. you mentioned the world and the
u.s. position in it. there's the possibility this week of an agreement with iran. a preliminary limited agreement in which they would freeze some nuclear activities in return for some relief on sanctions. israeli friends have been arguing along with some of your friends as well as your foes in congress that if you give the iranian regime any relief on sanctions, the sanctions regime will fall apart, countries that don't want to be there in the first place will head for the exits, it will all come apart and that's the danger of what you're negotiating right now. you talked to senators about this very topic today. is there going to be a deal and why can you ease sanctions without having them fall apart? >> well, just by way of background when i came into office, we had a trade embargo, u.s. had done things unilater unilaterally. we did not have a strong, enforceable international mechanism to really put the squeeze on iran around its nuclear program despite the fact
it violated a range of u.n. and nonproliferation treaty requirements. so we built -- we constructed with the help of congress the strongest sanctions regime ever and it has put a bite on the iranian economy. they have seen a 5% contraction last year in their economy. it's projected to be another contraction this year. and in part because the sanctions have been so effective, we were able to get iran to seriously come to the table and look at how are they going to give assurances to the international community that they are in fact not pursuing a nuclear weapons program? i don't know if we'll be able to close a deal this week or next week. we have been very firm with the iranians even on the interim deal about what we expect. you know, some of the reporting out there has been somewhat
inaccurate understandably because the permanent members of the security council in addition to germany as well have kept the negotiations fairly tight but the essence of the deal would be that they would halt advances on their nuclear program. they would rollback some elements that get them closer to what we call breakout capacity where they can run for a weapon before the international community has a chance to react. that they would subject themselves to more vigorous inspections even than the ones currently there in some cases daily inspections. in return what we would do would be to open up the spigot a little bit for a very modest amount of relief that is entirely subject to reinstatement if in fact they violated any part of this early agreement and it would purchase
a period of time. let's say six months. during which we could see if they could get to the end state of a position where we, the israelis, the international community, could say with confidence iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon. now, part of the reason i have confidence that the sanctions don't fall apart is because we're not doing anything around the most powerful sanctions. the oil sanctions, the banking sanctions, the financial services sanctions, those are the ones that have really taken a big chunk out of the iranian economy so oil production and oil sales out of iran have dropped by more than half since these sanctions were put in place. they've got over $100 billion of oil revenue that is sitting outside of their country.
their currency has dropped precip doesly. those sanctions and architecture for them don't go anywhere. essentially we allow them to access a small portion of assets that are frozen and keep in mind that because the oil and banking sanctions stay in place, they will still be losing money even during this six-month period relative to the amount of oil sales they had back in 2011. so what we are suggesting both to the israelis, to members of congress here, to the international community, but also to the iranians is let's look. let's test the proposition that over the next six months we can resolve this in a diplomatic fashion while maintaining the
essential sanctions architecture and as president of the united states maintaining all options to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. i think that's a test that is worth conducting. and my hope and expectation is not that we're going to solve all of this just this week in this interim phase but that we're purchasing ourselves some time to see how serious the iranian regime might be in reentering membership in the world community and taking the yoke of these sanctions off of backs of their economy. >> mr. president, with that, let me just thank you again for joining us. appreciate it very much. >> i enjoyed it. thank you very much. [ applause ]
"the wall street journal" ceo conference heard from house chairman paul ryan for about an hour. >> paul, welcome. congressman, thank you for being here. we know you've been a friend of the ceo council before and it's great to have you here. i want to bounce off you at least at the start a couple of things the president said and get you to respond. he spoke in strong terms about the problems we've had with
governing by crisis referring to the shutdown and so on. he expressed some optimism about this budget round in particular avoiding repetition of what happened the late unpleasantness. can you tell us right now here that there will not be another shutdown or another debt limit -- >> i'm comfortable with saying that. whether or not we come to an an agreement or we just have a continuing resolution that just keeps going, either one of those two scenarios will prevail and we will not have a government shutdown. the debt limit is later on. we don't know the timing of that. i don't know if you had jack lew here or not -- >> we did. >> he was able to do more extraordinary measures. that could be into the summer as late or spring but i do not believe we will have -- >> the debt limit -- >> that's going to go on lar.